Tempering (spices)

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Tempering (containing olive oil, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and slivered dried red chili peppers) being prepared in a saucepan

Tempering is a cooking technique used in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in which whole spices (and sometimes also other ingredients such as dried chillies, minced ginger root or sugar) are roasted briefly in oil or ghee to liberate essential oils from cells and thus enhance their flavours, before being poured, together with the oil, into a dish.[1] Tempering is also practiced by dry roasting whole spices in a pan before grinding the spices. Tempering is typically done at the beginning of cooking, before adding the other ingredients for a curry or similar dish, or it may be added to a dish at the end of cooking, just before serving (as with a dal, sambar or stew).[2]

Ingredients used[edit]

A tadka dal, which includes chaunk

Ingredients typically used in tempering include cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, kalonji, fresh green chilis, dried red chilis, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, cassia, cloves, urad dal, curry leaves, chopped onion, garlic, or tejpat leaves. When using multiple ingredients in tempering, they are often added in succession, with those requiring longer cooking added earlier, and those requiring less cooking added later. In Oriya cuisine and Bengali cuisine, a mixture of whole spices called panch phutana or panch phoron is used for this purpose.[3]


Some Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages use a form inherited (through an early borrowing, in the case of Kannada) from the Sanskrit root vyághāra- "sprinkling over":

  • vaghār (વઘાર) in Gujarati
  • baghār (بگھار) in Urdu
  • baghāra (ବଘାର) in Oriya
  • bagar (বাগার) in Bengali
  • oggaraṇe (ಒಗ್ಗರಣೆ) in Kannada

Some Indo-Aryan languages use a form inherited from the Sanskrit root sphōṭana- "crackling, cracking":

  • phoṛon (ফোড়ন) in Bengali
  • phoḍṇi (फोडणी) in Marathi
  • phōṇṇa (फोण्ण) in Konkani

Some Indo-Aryan languages use a form inherited from the Sanskrit root traṭatkāra- "crackles, splits, fizzes":

  • tuṛkā (ਤੁੜਕਾ) in Punjabi

Another root beginning with an aspirated affricate is found in yet other Indo-Aryan languages:

Dravidian languages also have various other forms for the same usage:

  • tālippu (தாளிப்பு) in Tamil
  • tālimpu (తాళింపు) in Telugu
  • pōpu (పోపు) in Telugu

See also[edit]


  1. "The Crackling Spices Of Indian Tempering". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  2. "How To Temper Spices | Rasam Indian Restaurant". www.rasam.ie. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  3. Jaffrey, Madhur. Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible. Ebury Press, 2003. ISBN 0-09-187415-7
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